DETERMINE BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP—Has your adversary hidden assets by transferring them to nominees, (i.e. intermediaries), or by using nominees to make purchases? If your adversary does this, the success of your asset recovery may depend on showing that your adversary is the true beneficial owner of the hidden assets. Agencies including U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network discuss beneficial ownership at their March 5, 2010 Guidance on Obtaining and Retaining Beneficial Ownership Information, No. Fin-2010-G001, at fn.2. The Wolfsberg Group of banks’ FAQs On Beneficial Ownership, supplies its own definition of beneficial ownership.
FIND LAUNDERED ASSETS—Launderers hide assets by washing them through a money laundering circuit with laundering links. Laundering links can be shell companies; gatekeepers like lawyers & accountants; etc. Through money laundering, your adversary may hide marital assets; bankruptcy estate assets; trust assets; assets belonging to a decedent’s estate and virtually anything else. Even an act as ordinary as buying real estate can be an opportunity to hide & launder assets, as set forth by the Egmont Group case study available here.¹
USE LEGAL TOOLS—Tools which may help detect your adversary’s money trail are available in legal proceedings ranging from divorces to bankruptcies. My May 18, 2015 article discusses one of these tools, 11 production requests geared toward detecting assets hidden offshore. Depositions are another legal tool for gathering evidence about your adversary’s assets. At a deposition, your lawyer should ask your adversary about any bank accounts; credit cards; real estate; etc. The IRS asks these questions at its Information Collection Statement, Form 433-A. The questions/material at the Form 433-A can be modified and used to depose your adversary about assets.
LETTERS ROGATORY—Requests for letters rogatory (a.k.a requests for judicial assistance)—are used to gather evidence from witnesses residing offshore. This means that a divorcing spouse; judgment creditor; etc. may utilize these requests to collect evidence about offshore bank accounts from foreign bank witnesses. Billionaire gunmaker Gaston Glock’s former wife Helga filed a request for judicial assistance in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia. It claimed that because of the couple’s divorce in Austria, Helga Glock needed to collect evidence about Gaston Glock’s assets from businesses in Georgia including Glock, Inc.
COMPELLED CONSENT/AUTHORIZATION FORMS—can be utilized to perform a bank account search if you already know: where your adversary’s bank is located; the bank account number; and the identity of the bank signatory. You would apply to the Court for an order, (i.e. a judicial direction), compelling the bank signatory to execute a consent/authorization form for the release of bank account information. You then send this executed form to your adversary’s bank which permits the bank to release your adversary’s bank account information to you.
INFORMANT’S TIPS—are one of the best ways to detect complex asset concealment schemes. This is why the Securities Exchange Commission & the Internal Revenue Service offer tipsters rewards through whistleblower programs. A business partner; paramour; family member; or others associated with your adversary may have direct knowledge of your adversary’s assets. If any of them fall out of favor with your adversary they may be willing to tip you about your adversary’s hidden assets. An attempt to elicit a tip from an informant is covered by the article “An Asset Search, Tax Fraud & Divorce.”
COMPUTER-BASED RESEARCH—sometimes reveals assets hidden by an individual or corporation. This research is discussed at “A Low-Cost Asset Search.” It can include searches for physical business assets; IP licenses like patents & copyrights; & searches for additional things.
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Copyright 2015-16 Fred L. Abrams